AP NEWS

Former owner of tiger found in Houston home arrested

May 15, 2019

A woman whose tiger was found caged in a foreclosed Houston home and sent to a wildlife refuge has been arrested in connection with her alleged treatment of the wild feline, according to her lawyer.

Police took Brittany Garza into custody Wednesday afternoon, said Jay Cohen, an attorney for the former tiger owner. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office signed off on the misdemeanor charge of cruelty to a non-livestock animal, court records filed Monday show.

The 24-year-old woman is accused of failing to give the male tiger adequate food, water, veterinary care and shelter, according to the probable cause document.

The arrest comes more than three months after a pot-smoking 311 caller found the big cat stashed in a cramped cage in the garage of the ramshackle home at 9415 E. Avenue J.

The bizarre find on Feb. 11 prompted the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison to take custody of the tiger that same week. Garza was silent on how she obtained the tiger during a hearing in April where a judge ruled that the refuge could keep the cat.

Garza was also ordered to pay up more than $11,600 for the cost to care for her seized tiger from Feb. 12 to March 29. It was not yet known if she had paid that amount.

The cat has since called a five-acre habitat his forever home. The refuge, located about 70 miles southeast of Dallas, announced this week it is renaming the tiger — who BARC officials had dubbed Tyson for the professional boxer Mike Tyson — to either Ezekiel, George, Loki or Navi.

Relatives to Garza have commented on the refuge’s Facebook page calling for the tiger to keep its given name of Raja.

Garza was previously arrested for promoting prostitution in 2016 and later pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge.

nicole.hensley@chron.com